David Ekrut

I graduated with my Ph.D. from Florida State University in May of 2016 and worked in image processing and software development for approximately a year in industry before joining the CCO group. My research interests are in the area of biomedical modeling and immunotherapies, where I hope to further develop tools to improve precision medicine and individualized care for patients with cancer. Currently, I am developing a software application that takes quantitative MRI data through a series of algorithms to determine model parameters related to tissue cell density and perfusion characteristics. Accurate estimation of the parameters provides a framework for predicting response to treatment in patients with breast cancer. The aim of this work is to produce a streamlined process for assessing the MRI data and model parameters that is accessible to physicians and researchers who might not have working knowledge of the intricacies of the algorithms. Also, I am developing an in vitro model to investigate the efficacy of combining targeted immune responses with herceptin (trastuzumab) in HER2+ breast cancer therapies with the goal of optimizing individual treatment. Cancer cells and immune cells secrete signaling molecules, called cytokines, which play an important role in regulating cell proliferation and other important processes for cell growth. Quantifying and incorporating this communication network between the tumor and immune cells will provide insights necessary for increasing the efficacy of tumor response to treatment.